Maximizing Fuel Efficiency with Pressure Sensors

Auto Engine

The need for continuous improvements in fuel efficiency

While the future of vehicles is electrical, internal combustion engines will continue to drive the majority of vehicles on the roads for at least the next decade. Their environmental impact will continue to be scrutinized as the effects of climate change continue to impact our daily lives. Improving fuel efficiency will help minimize this impact. In addition, the upward trajectory in gasoline prices further drives the need for better fuel efficiency.

Getting the fuel mixture right in an internal combustion engine is critical to improving fuel efficiency. However, this mixture will vary based on the many changing conditions. These conditions include speed of the vehicle, engine and manifold temperature, altitude, humidity and overall air quality. In addition to measuring the air temperature with a temperature sensor, air pressure needs to be measured in order to adjust the ignition timing and fuel mixture.

Pressure Sensors Monitor Air Pressure

Absolute pressure sensors measure pressure relative to a perfect vacuum and are the sensors that should be used to measure air pressure to determine fuel efficiency. Specifically, they measure the pressure both inside the manifold and the outside air pressure (since local air is entering the engine). This ‘barometric air pressure’ can have a significant influence on fuel mixture. Reporting this pressure measurement, the engine management system can continually tune the engine in order to maximize its fuel efficiency. Because absolute pressure is being measured, this can happen regardless of altitude or other changing driving conditions.

NimbleSenseTM Architecture Improves Fuel Efficiency Measurements

Superior Sensors’ proprietary NimbleSenseTM architecture is the industry’s first System-in-a-Sensor integrated platform. It incorporates a highly differentiated advanced pressure sensing system with the ability to integrate optional building blocks to combine the highest accuracy and reliability with lower overall system cost. This unique technology provides many advantages for barometric sensor applications.

Lowest Noise Floor

One of the biggest impediments to absolute pressure sensors deployed in automobiles is the noise generated by both the car and external elements such as the road and wind. Utilizing an integrated advanced digital filtering technology, Superior’s pressure sensors eliminate the noise created by these factors prior to their reaching the sensor sub-system. Thus, the noise is eliminated before it becomes an error signal that can lead to inaccurate air pressure reading.

Highest Levels of Accuracy

With a moving automobile, there are always changes in altitude and speed that can impact sensor accuracy. To minimize this potential impact, you need a barometric pressure sensor with the highest levels of accuracy. Superior’s absolute pressure sensors boast industry leading accuracy to as close as within 0.1% of the pressure range and total error band (TEB) within 0.15%.

Fastest Response Times

As a complement to accuracy, the amount of time it takes the pressure sensor to update its measurement data is just as crucial to maximize fuel efficiency. The faster you receive updated pressure measurements, the better you can manage fuel consumption. While user configurable, Superior’s absolute pressure sensors support update rates as fast as 2.25 msec.

Solution: ND015A Absolute Pressure Sensor

The ND015A absolute pressure sensor supports pressure range from 0 to 15 psia. It has a selectable bandwidth filter from 1 to 200 Hz and market leading accuracy of 0.1%. Other key attributes of the ND015A include:

  • Highly integrated sensor with ADC and DSP
  • Ultra-low noise 16.5-bit resolution
  • Exceptional zero stability
  • Integrated 50/60 Hz notch filter
  • Optional integrate closed loop control
  • Silicon gel protection
  • Temperature compensated from -20°C to 85°C
  • Supply voltage compensation
  • Fully integrated compensation math
  • Standard I2C and SPI interfaces


The ND015A is in production and available through Digi-Key and Mouser.

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